11 ACTION STEPS Community Leaders can take to support undocumented students and families
Clearly communicate that our schools are welcoming to everyone. Work with your school board to pass a resolution affirming schools as welcoming places of learning for all students, distancing the schools from enforcement actions that separate families. Some districts have even declared that they are ICE-free zones/sanctuary schools and have taken the public position that they will not permit entry to law enforcement absent a judicial order.
Identify an immigration point person who can serve as the immigration resource advocate in the district and keep good documentation of any encounters. Encourage the same for each campus.
Determine a process for approving resources to ensure all materials distributed to teachers, support staff, students, families and the community are up-to-date and authored by reputable sources.
Inform students and their families of their rights by distributing “know your rights” materials (or other approved materials) in appropriate languages to stakeholders so they are informed about what to do if a raid occurs or an individual is detained.
Maintain a list of approved resources, such as the names of social workers, pro bono attorneys and local immigration advocates and organizations, that can be shared with your students and their families.
Partner with a pro bono attorney, legal aid organization or immigrant rights organization to schedule a “know your rights” workshop on campuses to inform students and families about their rights.
Identify or create a local immigration raid rapid response team. These teams usually consist of attorneys, media personnel and community leaders who may be able to provide support. If there is a local response team, assign a point person for communication on the district staff.
Create a process for what to do if a parent, sibling or student has been detained. This should include providing a safe place for students to wait if their parent/guardian is unable to take them home. Double-check emergency contact info and ensure that you have multiple phone numbers on hand for relatives/guardians in case a student’s emergency contact is detained, be prepared to issue a statement condemning raids and calling for the immediate release of students, and consider alternate pickup and drop-off arrangements in case an ICE checkpoint is established near your school.
Coordinate with other agencies in the community as needed, particularly child protective services if the chance of foster care is increased during this time.
Provide counseling for students who have had a family member detained by ICE.
Train and educate guidance counselors and key staff to help mentor or guide students who are impacted by immigration, including undocumented students applying to college.
For more information on any of these action steps steps, please check out this Guide for Educators and School Support Staff on Immigrant and Refugee Children, compiled by United We Dream’s Dream Educational Empowerment Program, the National Immigration Law Center, First Focus and the American Federation of Teachers.